In a block buster decision on July 21, 2008, the First District Court of Appeals ruled muncipalities can’t try to overcome the Florida First Responder’s Presumption by arguing that other risk factors overcome the presumption.
Florida Statute 112.18 says that First Responders who have heart attacks with no apparent nonoccupational cause are entitled to Florida workers compensation benefits.
To get the benefit of the presumption you must show that you pass a preemployment physical and your employer can’t overcome that presumption. Municipalities typically try to overcome the presumption by showing evidence of pre-existing conditions and other personal risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease.
The Court found that there’s a difference between risk factors and causation. The only way to overcome the presumption is to show a specific cause of the claimant’s heart disease that isn’t occupationally based.
This ruling in Punsky v. Clay County Sheriff’s Office takes away one of the primary defenses I see raised to valid Florida First Responder Claims.
Answering these broad-based questions isn’t easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.